By Larry Fine
BEDMINSTER, New Jersey (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump arrived at Trump National Golf Club on Friday to attend the U.S. Women’s Open golf championship being staged at his course.
President Trump sat in one of more than a dozen black SUVs that rolled through the gate into the 500-acre grounds as the 156-player field were deep into the second round on a rainy day in New Jersey’s horse country.
Trump had tweeted on Friday morning that he was bound from Paris to take in the women’s third major championship of the season.
“Left Paris for U.S.A. Will be heading to New Jersey and attending the #USWomensOpen, their most important tournament, this afternoon,” Trump posted on Twitter.
As the motorcade rolled in, there were waves from the crowds and some cheers before the cars carried on out of sight on the sprawling property once used for farming and horse pastures.
The U.S. Golf Association issued a statement earlier on Friday welcoming President Trump.
“If the President of the United States decides to attend the U.S. Women’s Open championship, we welcome him,” the USGA said.
“It is the first time a sitting president has attended the U.S. Women’s Open, and is only the third occurrence in our entire championships history.”
The previous two instances of a sitting president attending a U.S. national golf championship were Warren Harding in 1921 and Bill Clinton in 1997 at the U.S. Open men’s championships.
Trump National was named as the site for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open in 2012, long before the golf-loving real estate magnate and reality TV star officially entered politics.
There had been calls for moving the 72-hole tournament following contested comments on women made by Trump during his 2016 election campaign.
The day after the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Trump, hundreds of thousands of women participated in mass protests in several major U.S. cities, galvanized by his campaign rhetoric and behavior they found to be misogynistic.
Last month a women’s advocacy group called UltraViolet protested during the men’s U.S. Open in Wisconsin by flying a banner that read: “USGA/LPGA: TAKE A MULLIGAN, DUMP TRUMP.”
A local protest may be staged off the Trump National Golf Club grounds during the tournament, the group said.
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Ken Ferris)